Thursday, May 30, 2013

Camping Essentials in a Bin

Today's post is going to be off the beaten path, just a bit. I LOVE camping, and I have my whole life. I love getting out into nature, away from the noise, hustle and bustle of life in our modern world. We just completed our first camping trip of the season...and I was reminded again how much I absolutely love camping! I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the great outdoors. That makes me sad, because I feel like there are so many wonderful benefits of "getting out there." In my opinion, many of the difficulties or reasons that people that love the outdoors don't also love camping are caused by one of two things: 1) lack of proper equipment & supplies or 2) lack of proper preparation, both before and during a camping trip. Not having what you need when you need it can make anything miserable.

One way that has made it extremely easy for my husband and I to go camping, is to keep our gear organized and together all in one place. We have a large, heavy duty set of deep shelves (as deep as a plastic bin is long) that we got from Home Depot for about $40, where we keep everything together in our garage. The bottom shelf holds our 72 hour kits, which we never get into. All our other camping gear is on the top four shelves, and the beauty of camping gear is that it would all double as emergency prep stuff. We have a "Camping Essentials" bin on one of the shelves, which holds all of our basic stuff. Everything that needs to go into the car is all in one place and ready to go. The only things we need to pack for a camping trip are our clothes, and our food. That can still be quite a job, especially if you have kids, but having everything else together and accessible will go a long way to shortening the process. I'm including a list of what we've got in our bin, and it looks like a long list, but most of it really will fit into just one bin. If it doesn't, just label a second bin. If you're going to be taking it and needing to use it, it's better to have it packed and ready anyway.

Here our little bin is all packed and waiting for its next adventure!

Camping Essentials:
matches in ziplock or other water proof container
lighter fluid
fire starters
long handled bic lighter or two
Flashlights w/ extra batteries
Camp Hatchet (for firewood, etc.)
Good quality outdoor knife (for whittling wood, etc.)
Whet Stone for sharpening knife
Camp shovel (for burying things, digging up rocks, etc.)
Rope w/ Clothespins for drying clothes, dishcloths, towels, etc.
Bungee Cords (3-4 in different sizes)
Sunscreen SPF 30+
Playing cards/card game or two
Spool of Twine
Pen & Small Notebook or Pad of Paper
Duct Tape
Small Bottle of Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl (I mix them, but you're not supposed to do this)
Small First Aid Kit or at least Box of BandAids
Insect Repellant
Insect Repellant for Gear (I spray around base of our tent once it's set up)

Cooking/Eating Essentials:
Heavy duty vinyl tablecloth w/ clips (for picnic table)
Dishes (sturdy plastic plates, bowls, cups, etc.)
Long Handled Tongs
Metal Spatula
Rubber Scraping Spatula
Wooden Spoon
Good, Sharp Kitchen Knife or two
Heavy Frying Pan
Kettle for boiling water
Sauce Pan w/ lid
Can Opener
Bottle Opener w/punch feature
Cutting Board or two
Hot Pads
Silicone Oven Mitts
Kitchen Timer
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
Plastic Mixing Bowl
Roasting Sticks for marshmallows
Small Bottle of cooking oil
Disposable Salt & Pepper Shakers
roll of Aluminum Foil
roll of Saran Wrap
zip lock bags in quart/gallon sizes (for leftovers, etc.)

dish pan
dish drainer
dunk bag (for sanitizing dishes)
dish soap
dish brush
extra sponges
dish cloths
dish/hand towels
small ziplock of SOS pads
hand soap
hand sanitizer
paper towels
package of baby wipes
tub of lysol wipes for wiping table, camp stove, etc.
extra roll of TP
a few large black trash bags
roll of kitchen trash bags

Paper/Disposable Products: (optional, but easier than washing dishes)

The bins can double as little tables while you're camping, and are also great because you can just pack everything up at night, put the lid on and slide under the picnic or camp keeps everything dry from morning dew and away from insects & all but the most determined critters. NOTE: I never keep food of any kind in my bins, since I don't want to attract critters, now or in the future. Smells created by food can be obvious to animals much longer than they are to humans. We keep all food and food items in boxes in our car while not in use when we are car camping. These rules apply especially when you are camping more remotely, or in areas with large game animals such as elk, deer or moose, and especially in areas known as bear country. Obviously, in any camping situation, you should NEVER have cooked food or food/snack items in your tent, and NEVER sleep in the same clothes you cooked meals in. Store all cooking utensils and other supplies away from your tents/sleeping areas and keep all trash and food items in your car or other bear-proof designated containers. Ok. Bear safety minute is over.

I also LOVE the big blue reusable IKEA bags (that are like .50 cents each at the IKEA check out counters) for holding things like tents, tarps, sleeping bags and other large stuff. Keeps it really organized and easy to grab, pack, etc.

Other Standard & Not-So-Standard Camping Gear:
Sleeping bags
Ground Insulation Pads
2-3 tarps (one for underneath tent, misc. sizes for other uses)
Camp Stove & bottle of propane (our stove is a little one-burner so it fits in our bin)
Camp Lantern, propane, extra mantles
Case for lantern, if desired
Large stock pot (for heating/boiling water)
folding 4' table
folding camp chairs
water container w/spigot (like a Gott) for drinking, hand washing
large cooler
dutch oven
solar oven (which I use to store some of our camp kitchen stuff)

*Comfort items for Sleeping:
4" foam pad, air mattress or other pad for comfort
down feather bed & comforter (I get cold easily)
set of sheets w/pillow cases
set of pillows

*We keep all of these items in a large space bag. They are exclusively devoted to camping, so they also stay on our shelf in the garage.

Having "exclusively-devoted-to-camping" items will also help simplify your life. Instead of having to remember to pack all your kitchen needs along with all your food, having a can opener & cutting board whose sole responsibility is to sit in your camping bin at your beck and call, will totally simplify your life, trust me! Also, you won't have to worry about partially melting the handle of your favorite spatula on the gas stove, or blacking the bottom of your nicest kitchen pot if you've got one just for camping. In addition to having a bin, having designated camping items is one of my most important rules for simplifying the pre-camping-prep process.

Of course, don't forget to bring firewood, charcoal briquettes and water or a water filter (if you're camping in an area without running water.) Also, don't forget the makings for S'mores, your family's favorite campfire treats, and maybe a thing of Jiffy Pop to pop over the campfire also!

We had a wonderful week of primitive camping where we ate amazing food, practiced with all our camping/outdoor/emergency prep gadgets, and got away from all the craziness of everyday life. If you've ever wondered how your family would do in the event of an emergency, primitive camping is a great way to see. It's a great way to test your preparedness skills and supplies. Our campground was supposed to have running water via pump spigots & pit toilets. Not much in the way of frills or comforts to begin with. But when we arrived, because we were the first campers of the season, the forest service had not yet been there, the water was not yet on, and the outhouses were locked. Good thing that we had our little backpacking water filter, a creek that ran right through our campsite and an extra roll of TP. It was fun to see that we could be totally self-sufficient and comfortable at the same time. I'll post more about the solar oven later, since it was A-Mazing...and we totally fell in love with it.

For now, I hope this list helps and gets your mind working on how you can organize your camping gear and supplies to make things more comfortable, easier to grab-and-go, and as an efficient double for your family's emergency supplies.

1 comment:

  1. Please don't transport firewood from state to state. This is how disease is spread. Use the available firewood in your area. Save the hemlocks. Great Smoky Mountains.